TransWilts train service - over 100 journeys every week
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Melksham - placed 2254 out of 2255. What can be done about it?

From January to March, consultation inputs were required by the Department for Transport with regard to what "stakeholders" wanted to be included in the next franchise for operation of train services in the Thames Valley, Wessex, the Cotswolds, the West and South West, and South Wales. I understand that some 1300 responses were received, and I estimate that inputs relating to the service on the TransWilts line (Swindon to Westbury via Melksham, with onbound travel requirement to Salisbury) were ten times those that related to other services, when measured in proportion to the size of the line. I'm not surprised by this; the consultation document says "let's start our discussions from the current service level", which is about the only way it could have been done ... but the current services on the TransWilts are completely inappropriate for the area / towns / traffic they should be serving.

Just how inappropriate the current service level is (compared to what it was a decade ago) was brought home to me during this week's Ruby course when I was manipulating passenger statistics across Great Britain for the past few years. Ignoring stations which have such low usage that changes are statistically insignificant, there are 2255 stations in Great Britain. And in terms of passenger growth or shrinkage, Melksham comes in at number 2254 out of 2255. Only Bowling, in Dumbartonshire, fared worse. The reason for the drop at Melksham? Part of it, surely, must be the drop from 5 return trips per day, spread at sensible times, prior to December 2006 which has reduced under the current franchise to just 2 return trips per day, and the train operating company doesn't run even these services at the time of day when they would get most use.

Melksham Station - no train dueMelksham Station - when no trains are due


Melksham StationMelksham Station - when a train is due at a time that it's useful. This happened through last summer with an extra trial Sunday service, and a few weeks before Christmas when Santa came with us on the train to Swindon


The Invitation to Tender for the next franchise was due to be published (or at least provided to the bidders) this month, but we now understnd from a well informed source that it won't come out until the latter part of July. Bids are due in in October, and a decision is due to be announced in December. The new franchise starts on 29th April 2013; do not necessarily expect to see early changes after that date, even though when First took over there was an immediate change of staff uniforms the following morning! All four bidders are very different, and would have their own stamp on things. All four, though, are experienced rail operators and are perfectly capable of doing an excellent job for us, just as each of them has been around long enough to have skeletons in the cupboard that means they have their detractors.

Now that the DfT's consultation process is over, at the TransWilts CRP we are working to ensure that all of the bidders are well informed as to the line, the works done to look in great detail at the case for future services, and the availablility of local support. We're also looking to help them know what the local key factors are. Price? Speed? Frequency? Comfort? Safety? Connections? Information? Reliability? Cleanliness? Ticket availability? Colour of trains? Waiting Rooms? These could all be key, but we're helping to provide local detail and ranking.

All four bidders are very different, and we're in a different situation with each of them and how they're "playing it". At one extreme, there's a bidder that's come across as very attentive and really listening. And, yes, there's an example of the other extreme too. But these are early days, and I would love to be able to report at the end of the process that all have listened, interacted and proposed well. Not only would that mean a better tuned proposal, but it would also bode very well for a future where we need to work together. We can't afford another seven - or fifteen - years of being in the railway wilderness.

The letting of this franchise isn't going to be decided on the TransWilts alone, nor on our opinions of the bidders. But we can (and should) be able to form our opinions, and review each of the options - and I'll certainly be doing so, and letting our MP have a qualitative and infored view and ranking in the early autumn, so that he can inform his ministerial colleagues as to the relative views from Wiltshire. We're looking for an appropriate service, and we're looking for a service provider who's responsive to local needs. The latter has, in recent history been lacking. So it was good to hear on local radio on Friday morning comments by both our current train operator and our MP that backed up our request for a service, in the next franchise, of 10 trains each way per day.

Melksham was 2254 out of 2255. The town of Dronfield, which is of similar size, was third out of 2255. The difference? There's additional trains calling at Dronfield - about one every hour - and the station there is headed for 25 times the traffic that Melksham currently has. Yet more evidence that an appropriate service on the TransWilts WILL WORK.

Some references and further reading:
• Full results [here] (after the sample program)
• Discussion on Dronfield / Melksham [here]
• Transwilts CRP web site [here]
• Presentation on what should / should be in next franchise and full consulaltion input to the DfT [here]
• discussion forum [here]
(written 2012-06-11, updated 2012-06-16)

 
Associated topics are indexed as below, or enter http://melksh.am/nnnn for individual articles
Z501 - Public Transport - Rail
  [4289] It may be cheaper to buy in bulk - (2014-07-15)
  [4276] Swindon to Weymouth - by train, the traditional way - 2014 - (2014-05-12)
  [4269] Survey - Journeys - (2014-04-28)
  [4268] Metrics - historic and current TransWilts train use - (2014-04-27)
  [4267] How effective is our publicity? - (2014-04-26)
  [4263] Chippenham - Melksham - Trowbridge, public transport over Easter (2014) - (2014-04-12)
  [4256] Train fare look expensive? There may be a cheaper option - (2014-04-02)
  [4253] Easter Weeks - Melksham to Weymouth - (2014-04-02)
  [4252] Staveton Halt, former station between Trowbridge and Melksham - (2014-03-25)
  [4251] Broughton Gifford Halt, TransWilts Railway Line - (2014-03-24)
  [4250] Lacock Halt - former TransWilts Station - (2014-03-23)
  [4238] A Question series posed to Melksham Tourist information - (2014-01-19)
  [4226] Saturday train to Swindon - two weeks in - (2013-12-21)
  [4224] TransWilts - first day pictures - (2013-12-18)
  [4219] TransWilts train services - up from 2 to 8 per day - (2013-12-09)
  [4218] A THANK YOU to those who have brought the new train service to fruition - (2013-12-06)
  [4217] New train service - launch plans and timetable links - (2013-12-03)
  [4216] Los Angeles - post modern transport system - (2013-11-27)
  [4202] Excellent Railfuture conference, but some setup lessons - (2013-11-03)
  [4199] Draft Westbury - Melksham - Swindon train times, from December 2014 - (2013-10-24)
  [4196] Official - Trowbridge and Melksham to London train improvements - (2013-10-22)
  [4195] Booking for Santa, Melksham Railway Development Group, 8th December 2013 - (2013-10-21)
  [4194] TransWilts Link - meeting notes from 19th October - (2013-10-20)
  [4191] Getting people to and from Melksham Station - not 20 but 700 times a day - (2013-10-12)
  [4190] A radical proposal - a cheap and effective way to provide home to city commuter transport - (2013-10-11)
  [4185] TransWilts Trains - running a successful campaign talk - (2013-10-05)
  [4176] International and off island travel from Melksham - (2013-09-16)
  [4173] Train and Rail Travel - who runs it and where do I ask questions? - (2013-09-13)
  [4163] TransWilts Community Rail Partnership - formally constituted - (2013-09-01)
  [4160] Bank Holiday Monday - pictures of a great train trip to Weymouth - (2013-08-27)
  [4159] People WILL walk to the station in Melksham, but they need a path and trains - (2013-08-25)
  [4154] August Bank Holiday - day out from Melksham to London or Weymouth - (2013-08-20)
  [4150] Melksham Regular Public Transport Map - as at August 2013 - (2013-08-09)
  [4148] Special General Meeting, Adoption of Constitution for TransWilts Community Rail Partnership - (2013-08-01)
  [4146] A few more trains means a LOT more passengers. Why? - (2013-07-30)
  [4142] Passenger survey at Chippenham - report and pictures - (2013-07-24)
  [4131] West Coast (of Wales) - railway and stations in pictures - (2013-07-04)
  [4113] Wiltshire and Melksham Transport - what is going on? - (2013-06-09)
  [4110] TransWilts meeting ... - (2013-06-07)
  [4105] Our day trip by train from Swindon, Chippenham and Melksham to Weymouth - (2013-05-28)
  [4104] Weymouth vis the TransWilts - the day out today - (2013-05-27)
  [4080] Fancy a day at the seaside? Weymouth from Melksham - (2013-05-06)
  [4040] Report on the last year - Melksham Railway Developement Group for Melksham Without Parish Council - (2013-03-11)
  [4022] A request for all of Melksham transport groups to work integrated - (2013-03-01)
  [3995] Onward from Brussels - (2013-02-04)
  [3994] On board Eurostar - a running commentary - (2013-02-04)
  [3993] Two trains a day ... how many fares to London? Guess! - (2013-02-04)
  [3986] Rail services in Wiltshire - up in the air? We need to say what is best required. - (2013-01-20)
  [3942] Santa Trip - Melksham Railway Development Group, 2012 - (2012-12-03)
  [3938] A long overdue meeting - a steeping stone towards coordinate transport user inputs - (2012-12-02)
  [3937] Agenda for Wiltshire Link Travel groups meeting, Saturday 1st December 2012 - (2012-11-27)
  [3923] 35 minutes is only a slight delay on our railway service - (2012-11-15)
  [3904] Want to help us improve transport in Wiltshire? Here is how! - (2012-10-26)
  [3899] Father Christmas to be on train in Melksham - (2012-10-19)
  [3893] Public Transport across Wiltshire - a new map - (2012-10-13)
  [3890] Here comes Santa - on the train from Melksham to Swindon on 2nd December 2012 - (2012-10-13)
  [3882] Community Transport - Pewsey, Taunton, and the whole picture too - (2012-10-06)
  [3881] Wiltshire Public Transport User Group co-ordination - (2012-10-05)
  [3879] Mixed mode travel - Information systems - (2012-10-03)
  [3873] Henbury loop, Bristol - a freight railway line with passenger potential? - (2012-09-29)
  [3872] Trains across Wiltshire - an update on the TransWilts - (2012-09-28)
  [3860] Melksham to Steam in Swindon, by train - great day out - (2012-09-16)
  [3826] TransWilts trains - what the next franchise period will bring - (2012-08-04)
  [3815] The Melksham News - July 2012 - Part 2, TransWilts Rail, Wilts and Berks Canal - (2012-07-23)
  [3804] Scenes from commuting by train - (2012-07-14)
  [3802] What a difference a year makes - (2012-07-10)
  [3795] Like a bathroom company with no plumbers - (2012-07-04)
  [3793] Excellent Rail News - what it really means - (2012-07-01)
  [3786] Improving Wiltshire Rail Offer - it WILL be happening - (2012-06-28)
  [3784] Steam train calls at Melksham - Pictures - (2012-06-26)
  [3765] Christmas in June? Melksham hotel bookings and Santa train - (2012-06-15)
  [3736] Abstraction - (2012-05-19)
  [3728] The future needs for rail services to Melksham - change needed; current service an insult - (2012-05-11)
  [3699] Bristol 50? Bristol 25? - (2012-04-17)
  [3671] Future train services in Wiltshire - please write in to support a better service - (2012-03-24)
  [3668] Kings Cross - new concourse - between Python in Cambridge and Objective C in London - (2012-03-22)
  [3642] Wiltshire Travel Times - Chippenham, Trowbridge, Salisbury and other places too - (2012-03-07)
  [3631] Getting around Dublin by public transport - some observations - (2012-03-01)
  [3626] There is so much to see travelling by train - (2012-02-26)
  [3601] Rail Travel - has it become more unreliable? - (2012-02-02)
  [3579] Transport in Cambridgeshire - seen by an outside observer. What can Wiltshire learn? - (2012-01-15)
  [3565] What would an appropriate train service on the TransWilts line mean - (2011-12-31)
  [3564] I wish I was not a special case - (2011-12-29)
  [3550] Provide a useable train service, and people will use it! - (2011-12-11)
  [3538] Santa Train - another successful trip - 4th December 2011 - (2011-12-04)
  [3501] Santa Claus - on the train from Melksham on 4th December 2011 - (2011-10-30)
  [3493] West Wilts Rail User Group - Walk yesterday from Bradford-on-Avon to Trowbridge - (2011-10-23)
  [3487] Public transport - road and rail - (2011-10-19)
  [3486] How important is public transport to people in the Melksham area? - (2011-10-19)
  [3452] Which or ATOC - who reads train fares right? - (2011-09-22)
  [3434] Sundays - and over eating - (2011-09-11)
  [3410] A review of the Summer Sunday extra trains on the TransWilts line - (2011-08-29)
  [3408] Journey home by public transport for a Bank Holiday - (2011-08-27)
  [3403] Last chance this summer - Swindon and North Wiltshire to Weymouth by through train - (2011-08-22)
  [3392] What costs 8.20 from Melksham, or 22.30 via Chippenham? - (2011-08-14)
  [3378] New product - ensuring that supply matches demand - (2011-08-03)
  [3371] From Wiltshire to Weymouth on Sundays - (2011-07-27)
  [3370] Standing Challenge - (2011-07-26)
  [3364] Dogs Legs on the Dogleg - (2011-07-20)
  [3362] Swindon, Chippenham and Melksham to Weymouth - Sunday Train Service Starts - (2011-07-19)
  [3336] Efficient travel - from Melsksham to Edinburgh by Sleeper Train - (2011-06-26)
  [3331] Comparing Alloa and Melksham - stations and services - (2011-06-23)
  [3328] Summer Sundays - days out by train from Swindon on the TransWilts - (2011-06-18)
  [3318] Summer Sunday Trains - outings from Swindon, Chippenham, Melksham, Trowbridge and Westbury - (2011-06-05)
  [3274] Small scale improvement - big scale gain. And they CAN be done with local knowledge - (2011-05-02)
  [3273] Wanted - a look to the future - (2011-05-02)
  [3198] TransWilts rail - coming together, wanted and needed - (2011-03-10)
  [3187] Past and Present - Melksham Station - (2011-02-27)
  [3178] The cost of roadworks on the economy of our town - 1800 pounds per hour? - (2011-02-20)
  [3176] Comparing German, Dutch and British Railways - (2011-02-19)
  [3171] Train and boat journey - the passenger accommodation - (2011-02-15)
  [3167] Can I take my dog by train? And other questions - (2011-02-12)
  [3161] TransWilts rail - what picture represents us - (2011-02-08)
  [3141] Wiltshire Rail services - a golden opportunity - (2011-01-21)
  [3135] A time to be brave? We should ask for what is best for our area. - (2011-01-16)
  [3119] TransWilts - some things to see and do - (2011-01-03)
  [3114] Transwilts Link - both Wiltshire and beyond - (2010-12-30)
  [3113] Trowbridge and Melksham to Chippenham - more roadworks, even slower journey over the winter - (2010-12-30)
  [3111] TransWilts Link - Days out from Swindon to Weymouth? - (2010-12-28)
  [3080] Santa Special - rather more special than usual - December 2010 - (2010-12-07)
  [3079] TransWilts Rail News ... Melksham (Santa Special) Edition ... 5th December 2010 - (2010-12-04)
  [3033] Rail services back to Radstock? - (2010-11-07)
  [3031] Get all your ducks in a row ... and they may turn into swans - (2010-11-06)
  [3017] Seventh day traveller on the six day railway - (2010-10-27)
  [3006] Santa announcement, 5th December 2010, Melksham - (2010-10-20)
  [2982] Travel, Transport and Tourism - A vision for Melksham, 2026 - (2010-10-03)
  [2955] Melksham Railway Station - new information point - (2010-09-13)
  [2954] Railway meetings, trips and meetups this autumn - (2010-09-12)
  [2931] Syncronise - software, trains, and buses. Please! - (2010-08-22)
  [2930] Walk - Tilehurst to Pangborne - (2010-08-21)
  [2919] London to Calne, Corsham, Melksham, Bradford-on-Avon, Chippenham by public Transport - (2010-08-13)
  [2908] How Green is my train? - (2010-08-07)
  [2901] Ambassador or Anorak? - (2010-08-03)
  [2855] Train Services - Melksham to Bath and Bristol (and airport) - (2010-07-05)
  [2808] From home to Nurnberg - journey pictures - (2010-06-13)
  [2696] Garlic bread without garlic - (2010-03-27)
  [2678] Reaching out to the community - a good case for support - (2010-03-15)
  [2664] Oliver Cromwell at Bristol Temple Meads - (2010-03-06)
  [2662] Is Melksham public transport actually used? - (2010-03-05)
  [2658] Save the Train - a significant change in approach - (2010-03-03)
  [2634] London to and from Melksham by public transport - (2010-02-13)
  [2627] Saturdays out from Melksham - to Oxford, to Didcot or to Swindon - (2010-02-07)
  [2626] On Malachite Green - (2010-02-06)
  [2568] Forums for your Melksham and open source discussions - (2010-01-09)
  [2557] Rail Campaign - response to core consultation - (2009-12-31)
  [2556] Railway Station Survey - please complete today or tomorrow - (2009-12-30)
  [2533] Five guests, three groups, one car - (2009-12-11)
  [2529] Santa Special, 2009 - (2009-12-06)
  [2522] Integrated public Transport - what could be done for Melksham - (2009-12-01)
  [2513] Wiltshire Council purchases Melksham Station Land - (2009-11-26)
  [2511] The story of the railway land at Melksham Station - (2009-11-24)
  [2486] Santa Special - Trowbridge and Melksham to Swindon - (2009-10-31)
  [2477] By train ... - (2009-10-25)
  [2473] Exploring Old Railways - (2009-10-24)
  [2457] Railway Arithmetic - (2009-10-16)
  [2438] Listening to The Minister - (2009-10-05)
  [2395] From Lymington by train - last of the slammers - (2009-09-05)
  [2391] Great Western Route Utilisation Strategy - Draft for Consultation - (2009-09-02)
  [2372] Public Transport from (and to) Melksham on Sundays - (2009-08-23)
  [2328] Melksham - no trains, no southbound buses through the town - (2009-08-08)
  [2318] For Lua Programmers AND for Town Planners - (2009-08-02)
  [2268] Westbury Bypass Refused - looking forward - (2009-07-04)
  [2133] Bigger and better this year! - (2009-04-20)
  [2057] Train and Coach fares from London (and airports) to Melksham - (2009-02-26)
  [2042] Wiltshire Rail Service Update - (2009-02-15)
  [2026] Melksham Climate Friendly Group - (2009-02-05)
  [2024] Carry on Training - in spite of the weather - (2009-02-03)
  [1999] How low can you sink? - (2009-01-17)
  [1966] Background to the TransWilts Train Fiasco - (2008-12-29)
  [1965] How much does a train service actually cost - (2008-12-29)
  [1964] Why hasnt the fiasco been put right - (2008-12-29)
  [1905] A Gold Star for First Great Western Customer Service - (2008-11-24)
  [1858] Camera with night vision, youth with no vision - (2008-10-28)
  [1848] 30th November - Santa Trip from Melksham - (2008-10-19)
  [1757] Preserved railways - struggling to the future? - (2008-08-17)
  [1729] Back from the future - (2008-07-30)
  [1708] A Train Service Update for Melksham Party in the Park - (2008-07-13)
  [1616] Not daring to be an anorak - (2008-04-19)
  [1567] Melksham - Swindon. Train v Bus v Car - (2008-03-07)
  [1558] Getting somewhere with the train service - (2008-02-28)
  [1530] Railway Acronyms and Abbreviations - (2008-02-03)
  [1452] Santa on the train to Melksham - (2007-12-01)
  [1428] Travel Across Wiltshire - the game - (2007-11-11)
  [1424] Closer than you think - the next step - (2007-11-08)
  [1382] First Great Western - information for customers - (2007-10-07)
  [1358] Look forward with a new broom - Wiltshire Train Service - (2007-09-19)
  [1314] Business travel by train in the USA - (2007-08-22)
  [1303] Heading Upstate New York - (2007-08-14)
  [1291] Day trip to Weymouth - (2007-08-05)
  [1274] Radio coverage for railway issues - (2007-07-23)
  [1273] Melksham or Weymouth? Meal or day out? - (2007-07-23)
  [1228] Some progress on the train campaign - (2007-06-10)
  [1139] Overcrowded trains around Bristol - (2007-04-08)
  [1097] Train and business balls all in the air! - (2007-03-02)
  [1093] Wiltshire Train - can YOU come on 5th March? - (2007-02-25)
  [1076] Save the Train - an update - (2007-02-12)
  [1069] Rail trouble forced me to buy hotel - (2007-02-07)
  [1063] Bradford-on-Avon - 150 years of passenger trains - (2007-02-03)
  [1045] Bang! Train campaign hits home - (2007-01-19)
  [1044] Call for appropriate train services - Swindon, Bristol, Bath, West Wilts, Severn Beach etc - (2007-01-18)
  [1033] Empty at Easleigh, Missing at Melksham, Overflowing at Oldfield - (2007-01-14)
  [976] Santa at the station - (2006-12-09)
  [974] The last commuter train through Melksham - (2006-12-09)
  [952] Coming from London to Melksham by train for a course - (2006-11-28)
  [877] Yes, but what do we do now?? - (2006-09-24)
  [814] Melksham Railway Calendar 2007 - (2006-07-25)
  [803] Not shouting - (2006-07-16)
  [790] Shadow Transport Minister to visit Melksham - (2006-07-02)
  [697] For any North and West Wilts and Swindon Readers - (2006-04-23)
  [688] Are you free on Friday evening? - (2006-04-18)
  [648] West Wilts Railway Users Group and trains to Lacock - (2006-03-16)
  [634] Real chance to make a difference - (2006-03-05)
  [632] Moral dilemma - (2006-03-04)
  [527] Greater Western Franchise Awarded - (2005-12-13)
  [524] Santa comes to Melksham - (2005-12-11)
  [521] Proof needed? Please just use common sense! - (2005-12-08)
  [488] Looking for railway groups and users - Swindon, Salisbury, Southampton - (2005-11-06)
  [486] Rail services under threat - Swindon, Melksham ... and Newquay and Bicester too - (2005-11-05)
  [447] Tomorrow's meeting. - (2005-09-19)
  [434] Through public transport connection, Chippenham to Salisbury, to cease - (2005-09-02)
  [428] Swindon - Chippenham - Melksham - Trowbridge - Westbury train service - (2005-08-29)
  [154] Railway train service, Melksham station - (2004-12-17)


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